Sabbatical ideas and tips | What is a sabbatical?

What is a sabbatical?

What is a sabbatical – sabbatical ideas and tips? A sabbatical is a period of time when you take a break from work and focus on yourself. You may choose to travel, learn new skills, study, spend some quality time with family, volunteer at a local non-profit organization, or even just relax and do nothing! A sabbatical is a great way to recharge your batteries and get back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.  

A sabbatical is often taken after many years of employment at a company, although it can be taken earlier than that.  And they will normally last anywhere between 3 months up to 1 year. You may use your sabbatical to travel, volunteer, learn new skills, or simply relax.

Why should I consider taking a sabbatical?

Taking a sabbatical is not only about taking a break from work but also about taking a break from life. Life is full of ups and downs; sometimes we just need to step back and reflect on what matters. We need to take a moment to look at our lives and ask ourselves if we are happy with them. If you are feeling stressed, unhappy, or unfulfilled, then maybe it’s time to take a sabbatical.

Furthermore, a sabbatical is a great way to recharge your batteries and re-energize yourself. If you’re feeling burnt out, bored, or frustrated with your current situation, a sabbatical could help you find a new direction.

How does a sabbatical benefit me?

If you decide to take a sabbatical, you’ll have the opportunity to explore new interests, make new friends, and gain valuable experience. You might also discover a passion you never knew you had!

Where can I go if I want to take a sabbatical?

There are many places around the world where you can take a sabbatical.  You may also want to consider taking a sabbatical whilst remaining in your local area. Let’s look at some sabbatical ideas.

Traveling whilst on a sabbatical
  • Volunteer abroad – There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer overseas. Many people choose to volunteer in developing countries where they can give back to their community while gaining valuable experience.
  • You can search for organizations that are looking for volunteers from all walks of life.  If you have experience in a particular field, say medicine, you could volunteer with any of the organizations offering medical support at outreach clinics.  Or if you prefer you could choose a totally different area from your normal field of work to volunteer your services in.
  • Travel – Take a trip somewhere new. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy traveling. Consider visiting a friend or family member who lives in a different country.  Immerse yourself in local history and traditions.  Embrace the history and culture and try to integrate into the community. Or take a road trip to somewhere new, off the beaten track. Travel, explore, and learn about new countries, new people, and you!
Best sabbatical ideas
  • You could learn a new skill – Whether you’re interested in playing guitar, cooking, speaking Spanish, gardening, or anything else, there’s always room to expand your knowledge base.  This can be done locally, or you can travel to another country to experience their culture and way of life while learning your new skill.
  • Writing – many people take a sabbatical and spend time focusing on their writing.  Have you always wanted to finish your manuscript or write the next Pulitzer Prize winner? Then taking a sabbatical might be just the right thing for you.
  • Work – yes, you can work whilst you are on a sabbatical! The idea is to work on something totally outside your normal sphere of work.  Working is a great way to make money and learn something new. You could work retail, become a barista, or start your own business.

    On the other hand, some people use the time to create a business venture for themselves. Maybe something small to start with, but something that will ultimately grow and allow them the freedom to leave their current employment.
  • Start a business – If you’ve been thinking about starting your own business, now is the perfect time to get started.

Sabbatical ideas – when should I start planning?

The earlier the better. If you are employed, then you will have to make an approach to your employer and put in a formal request for a sabbatical. You’ll then probably have a few months to wait before your employer confirms if this period of leave has been granted. That gives you enough time to plan your sabbatical.

If you are self-employed you have to consider how you are going to support yourself financially during your sabbatical and also what is going to happen to your client base during your absence.

Try to think about what you’d like to accomplish over the course of your break. Do you want to travel? Or maybe you’d prefer to focus on a specific hobby or interest. Whatever you decide, make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve.

How to plan your sabbatical

Planning a sabbatical takes time – but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Start planning early and make sure you have everything lined up before you leave. Here are some things to consider when thinking of your sabbatical ideas:

  • What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to travel, learn something new, read books, write a book, start a business, volunteer, etc.?
  • Where do you want to go? Do you want to visit family, and friends, or somewhere new?
  • When do you want to go (for example, right now, in 6 months, 1 year)?
  • How long do you want to go for (for example, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year?
  • Do you want to be a solo traveler?
  • Would you rather travel/volunteer as part of a group?
  • How much money do you have saved up?
  • Who do you want to spend time with?
  • What activities would you like to pursue?
  • Will you be able to afford it?
  • Are you ready to give up your career?
  • Are there any travel restrictions?
  • Are there any legal checks and paperwork you need to submit?
  • Set yourself realistic goals – i.e. I will volunteer in the local cat shelter for 3 months.
  • Set yourself unrealistic goals – challenge yourself by setting an unrealistic goal.  Something outside your comfort zone, like doing a parachute jump in aid of charity, or walking the Great Wall of China for pleasure.  Something ultimately achievable and measurable.


A sabbatical is a great way to step away from the current constraints of daily life and allow you time to refocus and re-energize.  Look at different sabbatical ideas and you could soon be enjoying volunteering or travelling to foreign countries all whilst contributing and giving something back to society.  Alternatively, you could use the time to reassess your place in society/work, learn a new skill, or create a new business venture.

But most of all just enjoy whatever you decide to do.